The Recipes: First, a quick summer appetizer but ever so memorable! The roasted tomatoes warm the ricotta, leaving it extra-creamy and slightly garlicky. What an appetizer! Or, how about this? Just pour a glass of crisp, cold white wine and call it dinner!
Second, Easy Radish Spread, a crowd favorite, familiar ingredients in a surprising combination. Last, Pita Crisps, yes, make them easily at home too!
The Conversation: If “you’ve got milk” then “you’ve got ricotta”. Yes, it’s that easy to make ricotta at home.
Got milk? We all recognize the slogan from the dairy industry’s ads featuring celebrities with milk-mustached upper lips.
But here’s a new version. “Got milk? Got ricotta.”
Yes, homemade fresh ricotta is as close as your refrigerator. It requires only a quart of milk and a lemon and is easy and inexpensive to make at home in just a few minutes.
HOMEMADE RICOTTAUpdate: The recipe below is what I call "Skinny Ricotta". For more tips plus the recipe for an extraordinary "Creamy Ricotta" that uses buttermilk instead of lemon juice, check out my new recipe for How to Make Homemade Ricotta. Now here’s the recipe!
To make a cup of ricotta, heat a quart (4 cups) of whole or 2% milk in a large saucepan just to a gentle boil, stirring often at first and then continuously. Stir in the juice of a lemon (about two tablespoons; for lemon-scented ricotta, add the zest too). Over low heat, stir until small curds begin to form and the whey begins to separate. Turn off the heat and let rest for 15 minutes. Transfer to a colander lined with cheesecloth or paper towels, let drain for about 15 minutes, throw away the whey that collects underneath. Stir in about a teaspoon of kosher salt.
That's it, you've made ricotta! And this stuff is good! This is one of my richest appetizers but to my taste, is worth every single delicious calorie! Add a glass of crisp chilled white wine and call it “dinner”!
EASY RADISH SPREADIn a food processor, whiz a half pound of trimmed red radishes, 3 green onions and 4 to 8 ounces of low-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with pita crisps or fresh vegetables.
PITA CRISPSSplit mini pitas in half and arrange rough-side up on a baking sheet. Mist with olive oil or cooking spray, then sprinkle with favorite dried herbs or spice blends or a little good salt. Bake until just crisp at 350F. Where to find mini pitas? My favorite source is Trader Joe's.
HERBED RICOTTA with
ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES
Time to table: 60 minutes
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes, preferably some red, some yellow
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 bay leaf, torn in half
- Salt & pepper
- 1 cup ricotta, either commercial or homemade, see recipe at left or How to Make Homemade Ricotta
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Additional chopped herbs
- Good bread for schmearing, sliced and toasted
Set oven to 325F. In a bowl, stir together tomatoes, oil, garlic, bay leaf and salt and pepper, until tomatoes are evenly coated with oil. (For a low-fat version, omit the tablespoon of oil but mist the tomatoes with olive oil.) Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and into the oven (there’s no need to wait for it to finish preheating). Stirring once or twice, roast the tomatoes for 45 minutes or until most of the tomatoes are just starting to pop but remain firm. Discard the bay leaf.
While the tomatoes roast, stir together the ricotta and herbs until smooth and mound on a serving dish. Let rest at room temperature while the tomatoes roast.
Top the ricotta with hot tomatoes, garlic and the roasting juices (don’t forget the roasting juices, they are lovely!) and garnish with additional fresh herbs. Serve with toasted bread slices. Serve while warm and enjoy!
ALANNA's TIPS The HERBED RICOTTA is an “appetizer to share” easily served from a common dish. But for an elegant presentation, make up individual small plates garnished with fresh herbs.
Such Easy Summer Appetizers!(recipes above)
Love-Love-Love Summer Tomatoes
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